Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8056 on: Feb 19th, 2013, 09:29am »
Oscar Pistorius has given his first full account of how he came to shoot his girlfriend, claiming that he mistook her for an intruder.
By David Blair, and Aislinn Laing 12:57PM GMT 19 Feb 2013
A statement from the South African athlete was read out in court on Tuesday, giving his version of events for the first time. Pistorius broke down and wept uncontrollably as his lawyer read out the account.
The athlete said that he and Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, were "deeply in love" and "could not have been happier".
On the night in question, Pistorius said that he had a 9mm handgun under the bed – a precaution that he normally took. Waking in the summer heat in the early hours of the morning, he went out to the balcony to get a fan.
The athlete had not attached his prosthetic limbs and was walking on his stumps. Suddenly he "heard a noise in the bathroom". Pistorius knew the bathroom window was open and that ladders were accessible nearby. He thought that intruders had entered the house.
"I screamed words to the effect of for him/her to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police," said Pistorius in his statement. "I thought Reeva was in the bed. I felt extremely vulnerable but I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself."
Pistorius then fired four shots through the bathroom door using his handgun. At that moment, he said that he was convinced the unseen target was an intruder. When he returned to the bedroom, he saw his mistake.
"I realised that Reeva was not in the bed," he said. "That's when it dawned on me it must have been Reeva in the toilet."
Pistorius said that he immediately broke into the bathroom and found his girlfriend lying critically wounded but alive. An ambulance was summoned but "Reeva died in my arms".
He added: "I am absolutely mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my darling Reeva. I can't bear to think of the suffering I have caused Reeva and her family, knowing how much she was loved."
The Pretoria magistrates' court is expected to decide on whether to grant Pistorius bail.
The prosecution rejects key elements of his account and is pressing a charge of "premeditated murder".
Pistorius, 26, won two gold medals and one silver at the London Paralympics last year. His deceased girlfriend was one of South Africa's most famous models.
The athlete has often been tearful and traumatised during his appearances in Court "C" in Pretoria. When he broke down earlier on Tuesday, Desmond Nair, the magistrate, held up his hand and intervened. "My compassion as a human being does not allow me to just sit here," he said.
As Pistorius' brother, Carl, tried to calm him, Mr Nair said: "I know it's difficult. You can't go back to the police station not understanding what has gone on here today," he said. "Do you understand?"
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8059 on: Feb 20th, 2013, 09:53am »
IDEX: Explosion of UAVs at Exhibit
Feb. 19, 2013 - 06:00PM By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS
ABU DHABI — If anything has changed in the past few years at defense trade exhibitions, it’s the explosion in the number and variety of UAVs on display.
Big ones, medium ones, small, smaller and still smaller ones. Multi-winged or single-wing aircraft, pusher or tractor engines to power them, vertical systems with one, two or four rotors. Man-portable systems that fit in a rucksack. Craft with wheels or skids or hooks. A plethora of often interchangeable payloads of sensors and — increasingly — weapons the machines can put in the air. Also featured are a variety of control systems and units, ranging from trucks or trailers to laptops and wrist bands.
All the big boys in the business are here at the IDEX defense exposition and its NavDex naval component. Lockheed Martin, General Atomics and Boeing’s Insitu from the U.S.; Denel from South Africa; and a host of European entries, including vehicles from France, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey are all vying for attention.
Among the UAV craft are an ever-growing number of offerings from countries not often associated with displaying home-grown military products. In South Asia, Pakistan has developed a range of UAVs, with several on display here.
“Most of these aircraft are in service now with the Pakistani military,” Tahir Hameed, a technical engineer with Xpert Engineering, said of four aircraft in an outdoor display area.
Xpert is one of seven companies that make up the Global Industrial and Defense Solutions (GIDS) group, that together makes nearly all the components in the aircraft and payload systems.
Standing by a large Shahpar tactical UAV, Shoaib Iqbal, an engineer with AERO, the Advanced Engineering Research Organization, proclaimed that “everything in this aircraft was made in Pakistan. Everything except the engines and tires.”
AERO builds sensors at its facility near Islamabad, in a region where most of the Pakistani UAV industry is located.
The Shahpar is the most sophisticated of the GIDS aircraft on display here. Configured with a pusher engine and canards and with a wingspan of 6.6 meters, the craft can carry a 50-kilogram payload to heights of 5,000 meters, and stay airborne more than seven hours.
Two flights of the Shahpar entered service in 2012, Iqbal said, one each with the Pakistani Army and Air Force, and GIDS is expanding its production facilities to answer the demand.
A flight, Iqbal explained, consists of five aircraft, a ground control station and a communications station.
Another tactical UAV, the Uqab, entered service in 2008 with the Pakistani Army, Hameed said, and has been in use with the Pakistani Navy since 2010. A wheeled vehicle that can reach an altitude of 3,000 meters and stay aloft for six hours, the Uqab is used for artillery fire correction and battle damage assessment in addition to surveillance duties.
The Huma, a smaller aircraft fitted with rocket boosters for takeoff and a parachute for landing, also is under development, along with the Scout mini-UAV, designed to be carried in a backpack and launched by hand.
Micro Vehicles Expanding
Another growth area is in micro-UAVs, hand-held models not unlike something available at an electronics store or hobby shop.
Datron, a San Diego-based company best known for producing a range of radio and communications gear, is here with its Datron Scout aerial reconnaissance system, a four-rotor, vertical takeoff-and-landing vehicle meant to be used for short-range, short-endurance missions.
Even fitted with its battery pack and a sensor payload, the polycarbonate-construction vehicle barely weighs as much as a laptop computer — not even 3 pounds without the sensor. The Scout is intended to fly to a range of only about three kilometers and remain airborne for about 20 minutes, depending on the payload.
But the craft comes with a sophisticated flight control program, said Christopher Barter, program manager for the UAV.
“We’ve operated this in winds up to 30 miles an hour, with gusts to 55,” he said.
So why did Datron, an electronics company, get into the UAV business?
“The value of a small unmanned aerial system you can pull out of a backpack is extremely lucrative,” he said. “And this model comes with autonomous control from a laptop, with global positioning satellite navigation.”
The Datron Scout, however, is remarkably similar to at least a half dozen other vehicles on display at this show and, at between $60,000 to $120,000 a copy, a bit pricier than most.
“Yes, but ours doesn’t break,” Barter beamed. “It’s extremely rugged.”
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8060 on: Feb 20th, 2013, 09:59am »
WTF?: 'Shark Whisperer' Girl Swims With Great White
February 19, 2013
This is a video of 'shark whisperer' Ocean Ramsey (whose mom is rumored to be a mermaid) swimming with a great white shark off the coast of Mexico. At one point she even grabs a hold of its dorsal fin and gets pulled along for a little while. The actions of a sane person? No. The actions of a woman with balls so big it's amazing she looks so feminine in a wetsuit? Yes.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8061 on: Feb 20th, 2013, 10:05am »
Surgeon killed with a punch was unlikely to have started fight, coroner says
A gifted surgeon who died after being punched to the ground by a teenager is unlikely to have started the fight which led to his death, a coroner ruled today.
By Hayley Dixon 3:19PM GMT 20 Feb 2013
The 17-year-old who killed Anthony Owen, 68, with a single punch claims he was acting in self defence – but his version of events have now been called into question.
Starting a physical confrontation would have been “totally out of character” for the devout Roman Catholic, Cheshire Coroner Nicholas Rheinberg said as he recorded an open verdict.
Mr Owen’s family now fear they may never know the truth of what happened to the cancer specialist, who was a “pillar of society” and devoted his life to helping others.
The car mechanics student, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was cleared of manslaughter at Liverpool Crown Court in August when the prosecution offered no evidence because there were no independent witnesses to challenge his version of events.
Mr Owen, who had been out litter picking, was found lying bleeding and unconscious with a soft drink can in his hand just yards from his £700,000 thatched home in Cheshire in March last year.
Just before he was found at 10pm he had had a confrontation with three teenagers who had been riding their bikes without lights.
The suspect, who later handed himself in, told the inquest at Warrington Coroner’s Court: "He made a lunge at me. I believed I was under attack.
"I struck out at the man instinctively to stop him assaulting me. As soon as I struck him, he fell to the right of the car. I heard a bang and rode off. I only exercised force to protect myself."
Mr Owen was hit in the face and struck his head on the ground, causing “unsurvivable head injuries”. He died six days later in Walton Hospital as a result of a blunt force trauma.
The coroner noted that the boys had appeared “evasive” and, although they insisted they had not discussed what had happened, he said this was “highly unlikely”.
Mr Rheinberg said: "It was totally out of character for Mr Owen to show anger, let alone strike out at someone."
The coroner, who deliberated for a week over a day’s evidence, concluded that there no “substantial proof as the means by which Mr Owen met his death”.
Mr Owen's brothers, Eoghan and Terence, and sisters, Alilson and Aileen have spoken for the first time about their brother's death.
They said: "We were appalled, shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic circumstances of Anthony's death.
"He was a pillar of society and a devout Roman Catholic who lived a blameless life and devoted himself to the care of others in his work as a surgeon.
"We know Anthony was a peaceful man and it is disappointing that we may never discover the exact circumstances of this dreadful event."
They revealed that even after his death Mr Owen had saved someone's life by donating his kidneys.
Eoghan, a retired surgeon, said: "We know that is what he would have wanted. The transplant was successful.
"Anthony was a surgeon for 45 years. He devoted his life to helping people."
"There is no evidence that my brother ever attacked anyone. It is totally inconsistent with his reputation."
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8062 on: Feb 20th, 2013, 10:09am »
19 February 2013
United Nations Panel Calls Hormone Disruptors a "Global Threat"
By Brian Bienkowski and Environmental Health News
An international team of experts reported today that evidence linking hormone-mimicking chemicals to human health problems has grown stronger over the past decade, becoming a "global threat" that should be addressed.
The report is a joint effort by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme to give policymakers the latest information on chemicals that alter the hormones of people and wildlife.
Much has changed since 2002 when WHO and the UN released a report that called the evidence linking endocrine-disrupting chemicals to human health impacts “weak.”
The panel of 16 scientists from 10 nations in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia found that endocrine-related diseases and disorders are on the rise. There is now “emerging evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes” and “mounting evidence" for effects on thyroids, brains and metabolism, according to the report summary.
“Over the past decade, we know much better that chronic diseases, ones related to the endocrine system, are increasing globally,” said Thomas Zoeller, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a co-author of the report.
Such diseases include male reproductive problems, pregnancy complications, certain cancers, obesity and brain development. Many factors can cause such diseases, but the report concludes that given how fast some of these are rising, environmental chemicals are likely playing a role.
Fetuses, babies and young children “are not just little adults” and are the most vulnerable to hormone-altering chemicals since their bodies are still developing, the authors wrote.
Zoeller said the goal of the report is to update world leaders on a topic that is complex and, at times, controversial.
A decade ago the biggest threat was thought to be persistent organic pollutant chemicals – such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These chemicals – now banned in the United States -- traveled the globe, persisted in the environment and caused severe population declines in some wildlife species.
Such contaminants still pose a threat. However, less persistent but more ubiquitous chemicals found in everyday products – such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates – now are increasingly linked to human health problems.
“These chemicals are what we call ‘pseudo persistent,” said Tracey Woodruff, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a report co-author. “They don’t stay in the environment long but people are exposed to them all the time so it’s the same effect as if they were persistent.”
The report points to previous regulations, such as the 2000 U.S. restrictions on chloropyrifos, as an option to protect people. After the pesticide was banned from residential use, children’s blood levels in New York were cut in half within two years. Also, lead bans greatly reduced children’s exposure.
To avoid prolonged exposures in the future, the panel reported that perhaps countries should “ban or restrict chemicals in order to reduce exposure early, even when there are significant but incomplete data.”
“Frankly, for BPA, the science is done. Flame retardants, phthalates … the science is done,” Zoeller said. “We have more than enough information on these chemicals to make the reasonable decision to ban, or at least take steps to limit exposure.”
But government agencies and industry groups remain unconvinced.
The American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical companies, has repeatedly questioned the validity of studies linking two of the most pervasive endocrine disruptors -- BPA and phthalates.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8063 on: Feb 20th, 2013, 10:14am »
Apple Suffers Hacking Attack Published: February 20, 2013 @ 7:49 am
Apple admitted its systems were infiltrated by hackers Tuesday. However, the company said no customer data was compromised.
The iPhone maker said in a statement that some employees visited a developer site that installed malware on their Mac computers.
"We identified a small number of systems within Apple that were infected and isolated them from our network. There is no evidence that any data left Apple," the company said in a statement to TheWrap.
It remains unclear when the hack occurred. However, the company released on Tuesday a patch for the Java script coding in its OS X operating system that seemed to fix the problem.
The security breach echoes a similar hack at Facebook in January, which the social network admitted to in a statement on Friday.
Facebook employees had visited an infected developer site, and the software took hold of their computers.
Both tech giants are the only the latest in a long line of U.S. companies to fall victim to cyber attacks. Twitter, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others, have all recently said their computers were tapped into.
The newspapers fingered China in the hacking attacks, though the Silicon Valley companies did not mention China by name.
Security company Mandiant published a 60-page report Tuesday linking groups of hackers in China to the government in Beijing, leading to greater fears that the Chinese army is behind many of the recent attacks.
(videos on the link) U.S. Air Force developing terrifying swarms of tiny unmanned drones that can hover, crawl and even kill targets
•Air Vehicles Directorate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, is already developing prototypes of tiny drones that can hover •The Micro Air Vehicles will work in swarms to provide complex surveillance of a battlefield •They can also be armed with incapacitating chemicals, combustible payloads or even explosives 'for precision targeting capability'
By Michael Zennie
PUBLISHED: 19:11 EST, 19 February 2013 | UPDATED: 19:29 EST, 19 February 2013
The U.S. Air Force is developing tiny unmanned drones that will fly in swarms, hover like bees, crawl like spiders and even sneak up on unsuspecting targets and execute them with lethal precision.
The Air Vehicles Directorate, a research arm of the Air Force, has released a computer-animated video outlining the the future capabilities of Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs). The project promises to revolutionize war by down-sizing the combatants.
'MAVs will become a vital element in the ever-changing war-fighting environment and will help ensure success on the battlefield of the future,' the narrator intones.
'Unobtrusive, pervasive, lethal - Micro Air Vehicles, enhancing the capabilities of the future war fighter.'
The project, which is based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, was revealed in the March issue of the National Geographic magazine.
Air Force officials said they have already produced tiny remote-control prototypes - but they consume so much power that can only operate for a few minutes. Researchers estimate that it will take several years of advances in battery technology to make the designs feasible.
Still, the Air Force has a clear concept of what it hopes to accomplish with the program. The promotional video begins with a swarm of tiny drones be dropped on a city from a passing plane.
The drones will work in concert to patch together a wide, detailed view of the battlefield - singling out individual targets without losing sight of the broader scene.
'Data will be communicated among the MAVs to enable real time, reliable decision-making and to provide an advanced overall picture for other platforms or operators,' the Air Force says. As the drones fall, they begin to fly - not like planes, but like insects. High frequency flapping wings allow the drones to hover and maneuver in tight spaces.
The military has already produced a drone patterned after a hawk moth that can flap its wings 30 times a second. However, the activity exhausts the drone's tiny battery in just a few minutes, according to National Geographic. Another drone type soars like a pigeon and perches unobtrusively on a power line to observe a surveillance target with a camera. The Air Force is working on technology that will allow the drones to steal electricity from power cables and other sources - so they can continue to operate for days or weeks on end. The Air Force training video shows a winged MAV following a target as he drives through the streets of a dense city.
Advanced sensors will enable 'optic flow,' which will allow remote pilots to fly by 'sight' - rather than flying by GPS, which can be disrupted by buildings or deliberately jammed by enemy forces.
The video depicts three drones following the target into a house, where they maneuver hallways and rooms undetected.
'Small size and agile flight will allow MAVs to covertly enter locations inaccessible by traditional means of aerial surveillance,' the narrator says.
The video follows the drones as they fly through an open door and sneak up behind a man who is aiming a sniper rifle. 'Individual MAVs may perform direct attack missions and can be equipped with incapacitating chemicals, combustible payloads or even explosives for precision targeting capability,' according to the video. On screen, a small, hovering vehicle pauses before shooting the man directly in the back of the head.
De Opresso Libre! I Have Been many Men, In Many Times, I Shall Be Again! \"The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.\" Plutarch
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8068 on: Feb 21st, 2013, 09:16am »
Chinese cyberspies have hacked most Washington institutions, experts say
By Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima,
Published: February 20
Start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them.
The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies.
The information compromised by such intrusions, security experts say, would be enough to map how power is exercised in Washington to a remarkably nuanced degree. The only question, they say, is whether the Chinese have the analytical resources to sort through the massive troves of data they steal every day.
“The dark secret is there is no such thing as a secure unclassified network,” said James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which has been hacked in the past. “Law firms, think tanks, newspapers — if there’s something of interest, you should assume you’ve been penetrated.”
The rising wave of cyber-espionage has produced diplomatic backlash and talk of action against the Chinese, who have steadfastly denied involvement in hacking campaigns. A strategy paper released by the Obama administration Wednesday outlined new efforts to fight the theft of trade secrets.
Cyberspying against what could be called the “information industry” differs from hacks against traditional economic targets such as Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola and Apple, whose computer systems contain valuable intellectual property that could assist Chinese industrial or military capabilities.
Instead, journalists, lawyers and human rights workers often have access to political actors whose communications could offer insight to Chinese intelligence services eager to understand how Washington works. Hackers often are searching for the unseen forces that might explain how the administration approaches an issue, experts say, with many Chinese officials presuming that reports by think tanks or news organizations are secretly the work of government officials — much as they would be in Beijing.
“They’re trying to make connections between prominent people who work at think tanks, prominent donors that they’ve heard of and how the government makes decisions,” said Dan Blumenthal, director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute, which also has been hacked. “It’s a sophisticated intelligence-gathering effort at trying to make human-network linkages of people in power, whether they be in Congress or the executive branch.”
China’s aggressive effort
Russia and some other nations also are said to engage in cyber- espionage against private companies and institutions, but security experts and U.S. officials say China’s effort is the most aggressive and comprehensive. The information-technology staffs of private groups have scrambled to neutralize the intrusions, often hiring outside specialists to expel hackers and installing monitoring systems to keep them out.
Yet such efforts do not always succeed, security experts say. Hackers often build secret “back door” access to computer systems or redouble their efforts to penetrate again once they’ve been purged.
Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8069 on: Feb 21st, 2013, 09:18am »
Wall Street opens lower after jobless data
NEW YORK | Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:36am EST
(Reuters) - Stocks opened lower on Thursday, extending the previous session's steep decline following a bigger-than-expected rise in weekly jobless claims.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 28.40 points, or 0.20 percent, at 13,899.14. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX was down 5.87 points, or 0.39 percent, at 1,506.08. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 11.90 points, or 0.38 percent, at 3,152.51.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)